Sunday, December 28, 2008

Old Looking - New Look

OK, so here is the an updated picture of me. Yep, I am the one with the white beard. I felt that I needed to post this, as a fair warning to those of you who haven't seen me in a while.

When I wear my complete "letting go" outfit, which includes the black beret, wayfarer sunglasses, and the beard; I can sneak up on my own Mama without her having any idea who it is.

The picture which is on this blog - the one on the right - is my IP Corporate picture. I ask you which one looks happier? The guy on the right or the guy on the left.
Although, I think they are both happy - this cat is sure looking old.

All the best,

Chicken Stew for My Soul....

I made another great soup tonight - but it is way more than just a soup....

I make a great chicken stew and that's the end of that discussion. It is probably one of the best chicken stew's that you will ever enjoy. I learned to make this stew from my mother-in-law, Dorothy Falls. Some would argue that Dorothy is really my ex-mother-in-law, but I say no, Dorothy and I never agreed to a divorce. Her daughter and I did agree to a divorce, but that was a separate decision. I don't think Dorothy and I ever will. She is still my "mama in law".

Dorothy, made a great chicken soup and I always enjoyed it. I asked her to teach me how to make it and she said it's easy; "you just empty out your pantry." I will not share the recipe, exactly with you, but I can share with you the real contents of the pantry.

For the people you love empty out your pantry; Empty out all of the
  1. Love that you have
  2. Sprinkle in generous doses of forgiveness, because we all make mistakes
  3. Dump in a large dose of patience; because some are slow to learn
  4. Sweeten bitter times with a hug and a kiss.

I learned these things from Dorothy Falls. You can see me for some great chicken stew. If you want to meet a great person, you can find her in Omaha, Texas - at the nursing home.

Happy New Year,

Monday, December 22, 2008

Throwing Heat



I was visiting with my old friend Nolan Ryan a week or so ago, and Nolan was pretty upset. For those of you who are not up on Texas Sports History or baseball; Ryan is one of baseball's greatest all time hero's. He holds pitching records for the most career strikeouts and most no hitters. Nolan and his wife live down in Georgetown, Texas and Nolan is a part owner in a minor league team called the Roundrock Express.


I asked Nolan what was bugging him- he said he had been watching the six o'clock news the night before and was really upset with the incident where an Iraqi Journalist had thrown two shoes at President George Bush. Nolan said "I mean this thing is a national disgrace and a damn shame. The way he threw both of his shoes at the president. If it weren't so darn close to Christmas, I'd hop a plane over to Iraq and handle this personally."


When I asked Nolan, what he thought needed to be done about the Iraqi Journalist, Nolan said "awwwww, Mike, I don't think he's that bad, he's got a good arm and he gets good heat when he throws the shoe, but for accuracy he needs to use a little more wrist. I mean to tell you he threw a shoe and missed by a foot!! With just a little more wrist action he could hit George on the nose every time! I"m thinking of starting a pitching clinic to help train other journalists. Seems like the least I can do as an American". Click here to watch Nolan bean Robin Ventura


Now you know why Nolan Ryan has always been one of my Texas hero's. By the way, if you think it would be fun to thow some shoe's at our lame duck president click here;



All the best,



Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Do You Believe In the Logical Man?

Ok, well now that I have bored everyone to tears with stories of High School, business, and my family - I think I had better step it up a bit or I might lose a follower or two. And when you only have few followers...this is serious. In an effort not to run off the few remaining friends I have....let us turn our thoughts to art and philsophy.....

To the right you will see the famous bronze and marble creation of the famous artist, Rodin, "The Thinker". I wonder what he is thinking? This looks like a fun topic...As a matter of fact, what do you think he is thinking?

Here's a starter...."where did I leave my damn pants?"

Please comment on your observations of this important work of art. You can use the comment button below...or you can wait until I call and insult you.

All the best - Mike

Monday, December 8, 2008

Pewitt School Integration

The following is a piece I wrote for last year's Pewitt High School Sociology Class. The class assignment, which I found very interesting, was to research and document the integration of the school. An enterprising young lady named Tara Hooper contacted me and asked me about helping her with the project. Tara turns out to be a niece of one of the hero's in the story, Richard Hooper.

Since integration happened "on my watch", I got to play the role of historian. It's great to be the "historian" - you get to call em like you see em. Hope you enjoy. Warning!!!! I got a little bit long winded on this one; even for me.

The History of Desegregation at Pewitt School
A White Guy’s Perspective
By Mike Roberts

Although I never thought of it this way, I suppose you could say that I actively participated in the integration of the Paul H. Pewitt Schools as I was involved in the very beginning and muddled though it with all of black and white children for the next 8 years. Honestly, I am proud to have been part of this era of Pewitt history because although there was a lot of anxiety and some problems, a lot of good things were accomplished that had been needed for a long time. I also feel that I am a better person for having been through it. Here’s my story, a view of these years from the perspective of a white guy. I hope in your efforts to document this era, I will be able to hear or read the perspective from others who went through this transformation with me.

The 1960’s were a time of unrest for all of American society. On the black and white television we watched the black and white tensions build in the form of civil rights marches, bus strikes, and sanitation worker strikes. We were witness to the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, and Robert Kennedy. We saw reactionary groups forming like the Ku Klux Klan and the Black Panther Party. But to me, this seemed to be happening somewhere else in America; I didn’t understand that it had anything much to do with Morris County Texas.

In the Beginning: Freedom of Choice
The first I really heard about this integration idea was in the fourth grade. Our teachers began telling us near the end of the school year that blacks would be coming to our school. This was done through something called “Freedom of Choice”. Under the “Freedom of Choice” system, blacks could decide to attend the white school if they chose to. I guess under this program, whites could have chosen to go to the black school if they wanted but no one did. Our teachers instructed us that if any black kids were in our class next year – that we should be nice to them. We shouldn’t pick on them, call them names or anything like that. Basically, just treat them like you would anyone else. That’s about all the preparation I remember that we got for the first round of integration. I didn’t give this too much thought since I didn’t really think it would happen.

Well what do you know, it was the first day of 5th grade and when I got to class there were already two black kids sitting at their desks. This seemed strange to me, but no one said anything about it. I think it made all of the kids uncomfortable. If I remember right, the black girl was Debra Turner and the black boy was Gary Sanders. Both of them seemed nice. They were quiet and hardly said anything. I don’t know exactly how Debra and Gary felt, but I bet that they were very uncomfortable; surrounded by white kids and white teachers they had to feel alone. I never knew anyone to be mean or unkind to them, but they did seem to be ignored. I think that we did not know what to say to them and they didn’t know what to say to us, so we just went along the first year – not saying anything, just doing the school work and going home. I felt sorry for them. I doubt that they wanted to be there in the middle of all of us whities, but their parents saw the need for them to be there. And while I believe that in the long run their parents were right, it had to be hard on them being the first to pioneer this “integration thing”.

After the first year or two of “Freedom of Choice”, a few more black kids started to come to school at Pewitt not too many but more. It seemed to me that this made the environment more comfortable for everyone. Little by little we began to talk and have fun going to school and playing sports.

The Battle of the Bands
During this time frame 1966 - 1967, The Pewitt band, of which I was a member in the seventh grade had dwindled down to nothing. We had a new band instructor, named John Bird who was trying to rebuild the band after years of neglect. The band was very small, I believe that we had about 25 members, and marched four by six. We had learned the march music, fight song and a few popular songs for football season and we could perform these reasonably well.

On the other hand, Carver High had one heck of a band. I don’t know their band leader’s name but he was an innovator and the school had a lot of pride in that band. In the 1960’s a band out of Memphis, Tennessee called the Barkay’s had a number 1 hit called “Soulfinger”. This song had a driving beat and featured a fabulous horn section with trumpets, saxes, and trombones. The Carver High School band director had lovingly transcribed this song for his band and man, could they play it!

Lucky for us, we rarely played together at football games or anything like that, but we did play and march at the Naples and Omaha Christmas Parades and that was about it. Getting us ready for the Christmas Parade, Mr. Bird had come up with all new Christmas music. We had about two weeks to learn this stuff and I think the music was pretty good – if only we could have learned to play it.

For the Naples Christmas Parade both bands marched and played their way down Highway 67 accompanied by various beauty queens, cheerleaders, antique cars, and floats. At the back of the parade was Santa riding on the Naples Volunteer Fire Department and tossing candy to the crowd standing beside the road. We marched most of the way through downtown Naples, ending up in the area which is now a parking lot by the old Naples Fire Station.

As the crowd congregated both bands played. Our Pewitt band stumbled and fumbled through its new music – we stunk. As soon as we finished the Carver band fired up playing Soulfinger. I swear to this day that I cannot distinguish between the recording of that song, and the way the Carver Band sounded on that parking lot. The long and short of this encounter was the Carver Band blew the Pewitt Band right off the parking lot. It was humiliating. Race had nothing to do with it – but talent and practice sure did.




Real Integration: The End of Freedom of Choice
Real integration began with the end of “Freedom of Choice” which was somehow no longer legal. The schools were required by law to fully integrate. This happened at the start of my 9th Grade year. Pewitt would become the high school and Carver would beame the elementary school for both black and white.

This was a significant change, and we first encountered it on the football field, because football practice starts a few weeks before school classes. Coach Fielding Huddleston was the High School coach, but the freshman coach was Mr. Robinson. Suddenly half or our team was black and half of our team was black. Coach Huddleston had already built a great football team at Pewitt, but now he had twice as much, or more, to work with.

From my perspective this was a heck of a change. I went from being the fastest kid on the team, to being only the fastest white kid on the team, about fourth or fifth fastest overall. Still it made for a really great team. The integration of the football team, as far as I could tell went very well, even though in the next 3 years it probably caused me to spend quite a bit of time on the bench. As freshman, we had Ricky Richards at quarterback with Alonso Gardner and Jimmy Shirey at the running back positions. Alonso was as quick as a cat and Jimmy could throw a fine block and was also a good runner. During our freshman year our team went undefeated in district play. The same would be true of our senior year together – these new black and white Brahmas were undefeated in district play and made it all the way to the quarterfinals before being eliminated by the team from Rockwall, Texas.

During this same period of time, in the Hooks, Texas, the Hornets also had been integrated and had a running back named Billy Simms who would later go on to win the Heisman Trophy and play pro ball. In thinking about this now, I realize I’d would have never had the chance to tackle a Heisman Trophy winner had it not been for the integration of the schools. Billy would have gone to an all black school, and I’d have gone to an all white school, and I would have only read about him when he became a star at Oklahoma.

Integration in the Pewitt Classroom:
Integration in the classroom probably did not go quite as smoothly as integration in football. Everyone was concerned about how things were going to work out, and when I say everyone I mean the school administration, the teachers, the black students, the white students and of course the parents. But all in all, it probably went better than most of us would have ever expected.

Some Stupid Stuff
The first year a few stupid things happened and unfortunately I would wind up personally involved. The first stupid thing happened the second or third day of school in the freshman agriculture class. It would be the start of the Great Fan Grab War.

When I got to Ag class that day, the black guys were on one side of the room and the white guys were on the other side of the room and there was a large aisle between the classroom tables. It was late summer, and for those of you who don’t remember the good old days, the school was not completely air-conditioned. There was a single fan in the Ag class and it was blowing right down the middle of the aisle, not pointed at either group. I honestly don’t remember who did it first but either one of the black guys or one of the white guys went and moved the fan so that it was on his group. While this was probably a joke (and a kind of funny one at that), one of the guys went and got the fan and put it on the other group. I started watching this and it was entertaining, each black guy would take a turn moving the fan over to their side of the room, and then a white guy would go and get the fan and set it to blow on his side of the room.

This had happened several times when suddenly I felt that it must be my turn to go and get the fan. Unfortunately, for me, Kerry King had decided that he would not only take the fan to his side of the room, but he had also decided he was going to keep it there. I grabbed the fan and started trying to drag it over to the “white” side of the room, with Kerry hanging on to the fan. I was making some progress in sliding Kerry and the fan to the “white” side when Howard Traylor also felt the spirit to participate in fan fight. Howard shoved Kerry out of the way and about this time the fist fight began. Howard hit me a couple of times in the head and gave me a couple of black eyes. I got him a time or two in the head and gave him a bloody nose. The fight had pretty much ended when Mr. Granberry, the Ag Instructor came to the room and asked who had been fighting. It didn’t require Sherlock Holmes to notice me with a couple of shiners and Howard with blood still trickling out of his nose to figure out who had been fighting. Oh well, “win’em and wear ‘em” my Pappy always said.

Traylor and I were escorted out of the room by Mr. Granberry and Mr. Tomberlain,. Since this was the first inter-racial fist fight at the school, Mr. Brian was called in to oversee the situation. I imagine they were concerned that this sort of thing might get worse. Principal A.T. Brian showed up asked what happened and then proceeded to administer the required punishment of five licks with the paddle to my behind. Trust me, Mr. Brian could swing a pretty mean paddle and my butt stung from it. Howard refused to be paddled and so Mr. Brian sent him home. I told Mr. Brian that I thought it was unfair, not because I got paddled and Howard didn’t, but because I thought I should get to go home also. Mr. Brian let me go home.

A couple of days later Howard Traylor and I came back to school and Howard had to take his butt whoopin’ then. While this seems a little strange now, I was called in to watch Howard get his paddling – the same way he had watched me get paddled. I guess this was to be an example of equal treatment (equally bad). Well I watched, but it wasn’t that much fun – those paddles stung and I didn’t really need to be reminded of how they felt. Howard Traylor later told me that he had put on several extra pairs of underwear before coming to school that day. I’d have done the same thing if I had been him.

Later, I would realize that I had no idea what that fight was really about. I do know a couple of things it was not about. It darn sure was not over a fan that only blew hot air around in the first place. Secondly, it was not about any hard feelings I had for Howard Traylor or anybody else in the room. Whatever it was about, Kerry King, Howard Traylor, and I got through it. I’d love to get the chance to sit down with Kerry and Howard and have a laugh over it now. I moved away and haven’t seen them since High School.


The Great Orange War
When it comes to stupid stuff that happened during the first year of integration, it’s hard to top the Great Orange War. The Orange war happened in the winter months as I recall, it was cold and wet outside. My buddies and I were having lunch in the cafeteria and seated at the 50 foot long tables with metal folding chairs that we had in that era. I am sure the school has adopted a different table arrangement these days – but then they took these wooden folding tables and placed them end to end so that a section of tables had to be at least forty feet long. Chairs were on both sides of the tables and when kids put their trays on each side it left a nice little alley down the center of the table. I can’t remember what the entire menu in the cafeteria was on this day, but I do remember the desert. It was a nice round orange. I like oranges but I hate to have to peel them. The stuff gets all over your hands and the juice is sticky. I decided not to eat my orange, and since I was finished eating I took the orange and rolled it down the alley in the center of the table toward some of my buddies. Everyone thought this was funny and someone way down the way rolled the orange back to me. Well soon the orange is making the rounds back and forth and up and down the table. Very entertaining and it probably could have stayed that way if Robert Elrod had not decided to demonstrate his skill at speed orange rolling. Robert drew back and let that orange rip – it was going 90 miles an hour down the center of the table and it got by all of us. After this high velocity orange went past us, it proceeded down the table to where some black girls were sitting. The orange hit the edge of one of their trays - Flew about a foot in the air - and landed right in this black girl’s mashed potatoes. Oh that reminds me, I now remember what the vegetable of the day was, mashed potatoes. SPLUT!!!! Potatoes and gravy went all over her nice sweater and things got very quiet at our end of the table. None of us had any idea what to do about this terrible, unplanned accident. I expected another butt whoopin’ for starting the orange war.

Fortunately, I guess, one of the teachers heard the commotion and set about helping the girl clean up the mess and got her a whole new tray of food. We thought maybe the incident was over, so we finished up the meal and headed to lab class to goof around until class started. The weather was too bad to go outside. Richard Hooper (a real Native American – Cherokee, I think) and I were goofing around and some other guys were in the room as well. All of the sudden a black guy (I can’t remember the name, but he was an upper classman) comes in the room and points at one of the white guys. Outside the room is the girl whose sweater we had messed up. The girl shakes her head no. But we can’t see her. Then the black guy points at Richard – now I see her nod her head “yes” and this guy slugs Richard right in the face. Oh well, here we go again. I next found myself standing on a lab table getting ready to pounce on this black guy who had just knocked my friend to the floor, when a voice boomed at the door – “what’s going on in here?” Busted again. As I recall, Richard went home to take care of his wounds (he had a terrible looking shiner), I went down to Mr. Brian’s office and got another “butt whoopin”, and I think the black guy got expelled for a couple of days. This was the end of the Great Orange War. It didn’t last very long – all told maybe 30 minutes including the butt whoopin.

If you think about the stupid stuff that went on during the first year of integration, you can see pretty quickly that there really wasn’t that much to it. Kids will be kids no matter what color they are. Kids will roll oranges, kids will pick on one another, and again kids will be kids. The tensions that we felt at that time went past kid stuff though, there was a lot of fear and anxiety in the air. Because of this tension, ordinary stuff that kids do caused serious concern because it was between black and white kids.

Getting to Normal – Real Intergration
Once we got the rough edges behind us that first year, I think that things went very well. We had great football teams, a great band, and a lot of fun going to school together. I suspect that we learned a lot also, thanks to the excellent faculty that the school had. We also learned a lot from each other. I used the term real integration to make a point, real integration is not going to school with different people who are a different color than you because the government says you have to. Real integration is working, playing, laughing, learning and really caring about all the people around you. When you can do this as a person you are truly integrated and I believe that you will get a lot more out of life. If we could do it as a society it would be very special. We made some progress toward understanding this as my high school years passed and I would like to give you some examples.

The Student Council
A man that some of you know as Dr. James Patrick Griffin, MD is a white doctor in Naples today. But then he was just my buddy Jimmy, a good student and an average athlete. Kenneth Hannah (Kenny) was probably my best black friend. Jimmy, Kenny and I ran for student council on one ticket, and were chosen by our classmates to lead the student council our senior year (1972-1973). We had fun at this. One of the first things we did as a student council was to launch a campaign to clean up the campus. We got some 55 gallon barrels and assembled a group to paint them up nice for trash barrels. We put out a school newsletter a couple of times, which I think we sold for a dime a copy. And we put together some money for a dance at the school. Blacks and whites worked together on these projects.

Homecoming
I believe that during this time we elected our first black homecoming queen. As I remember This was not easy, the blacks tended to vote as a block for the black girl and the whites did the same. However, what nobody realized, was that there were several us who didn’t care too much for one of the white nominees and we switched sides and helped elect the black girl. There were just as many blacks as whites, but when a few of us jumped ship, it tipped the scale.




Getting Ready for the Next Steps
High School ends for everybody sometime (I think). And at this point you have to start thinking ahead. Are you going to college? Where can you get a job? Anybody want to join the military? For many of us our choices didn’t seem that good.
The Vietnam was was going on at this time and I had already had an older friend killed in action. Nobody really understood why we were in that war, and nobody could figure out how we could win it, or how to get out of it. It was a mess. So the military was not a very good choice then. I suspect that many of you today may have the same feelings about the Iraq war.

College, now there was an interesting idea. Unfortunately, many of us came from low-income families and the prospects didn’t look good for college. I went ahead and took the college entrance exams anyway. I knew I didn’t have the money to go, but what the heck, I was pretty good at taking tests and a lot of my friends were going. So we took the test together, I believe it was given at the Armory in Mt. Pleasant. One guy who took it with us was a black guy named Nathan Collins. Nathan was one of the best students in school and I believe that he was the valedictorian of his class. He was definitely in the top ten. So we took the test and I was never more amazed.

My first amazement was my own score, I had top scores in math and science portions of the exam. My English score brought my average down a bit, but overall my score’s were good enough to get me into almost any school in the nation, and so were my classmate’s Jimmy Griffin’s, Ross Canant’s and Chet Coker.

I was amazed at how well I and my fellow classmates had done on the exam. All that math and algebra that Mrs. Griffin and Mr. Ranes had pushed us to learn, all that science from Mr. Nance and Professor Mitchell had pushed us to learn, and all that the other Pewitt Teachers had done – had made us all very competitive academically. Most of us good go anywhere and compete academically with anyone from any big or rich school.

The lone exception amongst my friends was Nathan Collins who had scored below the national average. As you probably guessed by now or already knew, Nathan was black. I knew Nathan Collins very well, he sat next to me in Professor Mitchell’s physics class. Nathan was the top student there and in virtually every class. To sum it up he was a smart guy, and very nice guy as well. I asked Nathan how his score could be so low? Nathan said to me, “I think it is pretty simple, I must be below average”. It truly hurt me to even hear Nathan say this, and I know that score had hurt him badly. There was never anything average about Nathan; he was at the top in everything. It would be years before people began to understand that somehow racial bias had crept into those standardized tests. This story does have a happy ending though, I know that Nathan finished college and believe that he also became a medical doctor. I’ll bet if Nathan is a doctor, he a darn good one. Nathan was good at everything he did, except for that test.




The Future:
One thing I have been wrong about was the future of race relations. I had thought that my generation had paid the dues and paved the road to eliminate racism. Unfortunately, I now realize that our contribution was not near enough. There is still prejudice in this country and it is just as wrong now as it ever was. It seems a shame that all of the tension and struggles that my generation and the generations before me (black and white) went through to try and make things better…..just haven’t been enough.

I’m 51 years old now Tara, and what I have learned about desegregation and integration is this. Integration is not about people of different races living together, going to school together and ignoring one another. Real integration is working, playing, laughing, learning, loving and really caring about all the people around you.

I think the best quote I could give you on this would be this one:

Let there be peace on earth; and let it begin with me.

The integration of Pewitt School while I was there helped me to learn this. I hope I have been of some help to you and your classmates. Thanks for asking me to participate, Tara.

All the Best Tara, to you and your classmates,


Mike Roberts
Pewitt High Senior Class 1973

Sunday, December 7, 2008

You Don't Have to be a Weather Man...but maybe you do..

As I remember it, the catch phrase of the Weatherman Underground was '' you don't have to be a weatherman to know which way the wind is blowing".

However in the case of Fortune 100 Executives, maybe they could use a thermometer (rectal I am sure) for evaluating their companies and their performance. Here are a few key questions that one might use in determining the qualifications of some Fortune 100 execs:
  1. How smart do you have to be when you show up to beg for money, to not show up in a Corporate Jet? Isn't the fact that this happened, an indictment of these Execs?
  2. How long can you expect the corporation to pay your multi-million $ salary while the stock holders lose money every year?
  3. Why do you wait until even the UAW offers concenssions on its contract to even evaluate your cost of doing business?
  4. Who's calling the shots anyway - do you need the United States Congress - a body of Lawyers to tell you to sell the corporate jets/cut costs/and get meaningful products on the market?

As we all know, these guys are asleep at the switch, and it is not just GM CEO, Rick Wagner. This is a common US corporate problem. It is the exact reason why Toyota, Hyundai, Sony, and others have run circles around US corporations for years. The leadership of many of these U.S. corporations are "LAME", and they have extremely weak boards. These "alleged" board leaders need to:

1. Remove the execs.

2. Resign.

Most of them have demonstrated beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are only self interested and incompetent.

Car companies aside, if you look at North American Paper Companies it is intersting to see that how on one day that a major analyst anounces that the demand for paper is down by over 15% and a few days later, that two paper company execs announce that they will close a couple of mills and reduce production. How smart do you have to be, to make these rear view mirror decisions? Just wait till the market watchers tell you how to run your business. Further, why would any stockholder pay you a multi-million dollar annual salary for this type of rear-view mirror mangement?

I expect it will only be days, before the International Paper Company announces the sale of their 3 jets and hanger facility at the Memphis Airport. But more than likely, we will wait until some "Stock Analyst Wank" tells us to. Who's running the company anyhow?

Like I said, you don't have to be a weatherman to know which way the wind is blowing. On the otherhand .... if you are a Fortune 100 exec - a weatherman could be helpful. Hope the weather changes....

All the best,

mike

Saturday, December 6, 2008

From the back of the unemployment line

Today the "labor department" released statistics that said 530,000 more people lost their jobs this month. This brought the total for the last 3 months to 1,250,000. How does one stand out amongst 1,250,000 other non-working Americans? This is how my dear old pappy did it in 1955.

I really don't like writing stories like these, they are too revealing and honestly not very funny. On the other-hand, this is a true story about me and my family that almost no one knows (even my sister). If anything, it shows why I will never give up and am so stubborn. My Dad, faced obstacles 10x what I ever will, and he never complained. For me to complain, would violate everything Dad stood for. I personally don't like this story, but it is true and probably needs explained. Here we go....

The View from the Back…………
Of the Unemployment Line

Long about 1955, a disabled Marine Corp Veteran stood at the end of the unemployment line in San Diego, California. He had just about given up hope on finding a job and carried a loaded 38 Special tucked in his belt and under the old jacket that he wore. The gun was there because this young Marine had planned to rob a liquor store; with a goal of stealing enough money to send his 1-year-old son to Northeast Texas on a Greyhound bus. He decided to try one more time to find a job, before committing a dangerous crime.

Along with the 38 Special tucked in his belt, he held his one year old son in his left arm at the end of that long unemployment line. The baby was sick and crying, and nerves were coming unraveled, both for the disabled Marine and the other folks ahead of him in the line. Just as things were about to snap in the young vet’s head, a man from the San Diego unemployment office walked up and said, “Private, can you drive a truck?” The young vet said, “yes sir!” and was told to report to the San Diego Box and Spring Company, for a job immediately as a truck driver. He took the baby back to his sister’s house, and reported for work at San Diego Box and Spring.

A year or two later, with his war wounds still haunting and hurting him, this same young Marine Vet, came back to East Texas with his bride and his son. Work was scarce in Northeast Texas, so he picked cotton, even with the mortar wounds and shrapnel still in his back. Many nights the pain was so great he laid flat on the hard wood floor, sweating and hoping for some relief. Next morning, he went out to the fields again to try and make a living for his family. I don’t know if he ever knew it, but he did a damn fine job.

You see, that young wounded Marine was a guy named Roy Glenn Roberts, and he was and still is my father. Probably because of all the pain and hardship my dear old Daddy had to bare, he had a major stroke when he was only 48; and died when he was only 60. But he left my Mom, and me, and my sister, DeAnna, with a huge legacy. Not in terms of wealth, money, or anything like that. He left us with a sense of pride, hard work, and determination. Moreover, he left all of us with a complete unwillingness to quit or give up. And for that, I am eternally thankful.

I hope I can show you a little bit of Dad’s determination in me; from the back of the unemployment line.

All the best,

Mike

By the way, today is Laura Zander Cole's birthday. Please join me in wishing her many happy returns. You can reach LZ here LauraACole@comcast.net

All the best to the Cole Family - especially Laura,

from
mike

Sunday, November 30, 2008

This Just In!!!!

Tiger "Let Go" by GM in Cost Cutting Move
Peter Baker, NYT Sports Editor

In a move that came as no surprise to the Business World and the Professional Golf Media, Tiger Woods was released from his multi-year contract with General Motors. See picture at right, "Tiger Tells GM What To Do With Their Renedevous"

When interviewed about his release, Tiger explained, "I had seen this move coming for some time, and had talked about it with my old golf buddy, Mike Roberts down in Memphis. We knew that when International Paper let Mike go, I would probably be next on the list of high profile, highly paid professionals who would be cut by the Fortune 100."

Asked what he would be doing in his spare time, Tiger said he hoped to get some "fill-in" work with Roberts in writing the now famous blog, The Let Go Journal. He also stated that, "while Mike is a great writer and a brilliant entreprenuer, I think I could help him some with his Golf game."

When contacted by telephone for comment, Mike Roberts, managing editor of the Let Go Journal, told the New York Times "Yeah, Tiger and I go way back, and we'll find something here at the Journal for him to do. I told Tiger, life doesn't owe us a living - but a Lear and a Limo wouldn't be bad. I think Tiger and I will getting along just fine without GM or IP."

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Letting Go - of Houses - Staging



About a week ago, Nancy and I sold our estate down in Texas. Honestly, I was very glad to see it go. The place was big and complicated. It had seven outdoor decks. I used to brag that I had more decks than some casinos - that was until I found myself constantly sanding and staining decks. It had a pool - which still leaks. It has about 5 acres of land on the lovely San Gabriel River - which cost me a fortune just to keep mowed. Like I said - I was glad to see it go.


With that one behind us, we are now attempting to sell our home here in Memphis. The idea being to maximize our flexibility to move - whereever we want. Anyhow, we met with a Realtor, and have decided to try and sell the place on our own. However, we figured we could use a little advice on getting this place ready to sell so we consulted with a "Stager".

The "stager" showed up at 10:00 for our consultation on how to stage the house to sell. Rebecca, was our "stager" and she had developed an interesting way of explaining to women and men everywhere (but especially women) that staging a house to sell is not the same as "decorating a house to live in." This explanation basically allows the "stager" to tell you that your stuff is ugly and you have no taste, without being offensive.....because staging is different than decorating. Whatever.... Well we did pretty well downstairs, just gotta move things around a bit. Nancy is pretty much in charge of downstairs. Upstairs is / was a different story. Especially, my office. I got blasted by the "stager". For those of you who have never been here, my office is a multi-faceted, multi-functional, work of art. It has five major themes - it serves as a:
Real Office - I have state of the art computers and software up here
Library - which used to have 1200 books
Music Studio - complete with 5 guitars, tamborines, speakers, etc.
Texas History Museum
Beer Joint - complete with working refrigerator full of beer.
As best as I can tell, the "stager" thought my office was a FEMA Class A disaster area. You should have seen the look on her face. I can't believe - that after all the work that I have done - she asked me if I couldn't get down to just one bookcase. She also wanted to remove my Texas Flag autographed by Willie Nelson. Believe it or not, now this is a killer....she suggested getting rid of my beer frig!!!!
What's even sadder, with all the stuff she wants me to take out of here, I am going to have to rent another storage building - this will overflow the damn 20 X 10 that we got 2 weeks ago.
OK, so if any of you guys and gals want to understand "staging", it seems that the goal is to completely depersonalize the house, and replace it with the personality and polish of a Ritz Carlton. In other words, let go of your stuff!
I guess, I need more lessons in letting go....and another storage building.
All the best.....
mike

Friday, November 28, 2008

Letting Go of the Smokes.. A tale of One Hero and Two Drugs

Probably one of my biggest Let Go’s of the year was quitting smoking. For those of you who don’t know it, I quit January 1st of this year, at approximately 10:00 am. You have probably heard all kinds of stories about how hard it is to quit smoking, and this should be no surprise. Some experts believe that nicotine is more addictive than powdered cocaine. Two things helped me quit smoking – Allen Carr’s book “Quit Smoking the Easy Way” and Chantix. I will describe the benefits / and drawbacks of both.

Allen Carr smoked 5 packs of cigarettes a day for over 30 years. After many failures at trying to quit smoking, Carr quit smoking in 1983 after developing a unique outlook on tobacco, nicotine, and the whole cigarette habit in general. Many celebrities have used Carr’s techniques to quit smoking including, Sir Richard Branson, Ellen Degeneres, and Sir Anthony Hopkins. That's Allen's picture above on the right. Unfortunately, Allen Carr, died a few years back at the age of 73. Guess what got him? Yep, Lung Cancer. But not before he had helped millions people quit smoking. And for his efforts, I'd say that Carr is certainly a man to be admired.

Carr begins by asking a simple question, “When did you decide to become a smoker?”. Not when did you smoke your first cigarette, but when did you decide to become a nicotine addict?

You see, nobody ever decides to become a nicotine addict. What happens with cigarettes and other dangerous drugs is that a person decides to try the drug; then finds themselves trapped with the physical and mental need for the drug. Carr starts from this point, and then continues to kick the crutches out from under the cigarette smoking habit. He pretty much finishes the job by causing you to understand that by quitting cigarettes, you are really not giving up anything – instead you are gaining in the health, wealth, and well-being departments. Instead of believing that you are “giving up” cigarettes; its look’s look at what I am getting rid of, a filthy, expensive, and unhealthy habit. You can read more about Allen Carr and his program here. http://www.theeasywaytostopsmoking.com/Home/tabid/125/Default.aspx

Now Chantix is a whole nother thing. Chantix is a drug manufactured by Pfizer. It has a very high success rate compared to other treatments for nicotine addiction. Chantix works by altering the neural receptors in your brain that respond to nicotine. It also has some extremely interesting side effects. Chantix can cause people to have really vivid and really weird dreams.

I know at least a half dozen people who tried Chantix and their dreams were so scary they had to quit. However, I did not suffer this problem. Instead, I had very vivid great dreams! One night I went out on the town, with Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones, I was on the bus with Willie Nelson, and these are just a few of the celebrities who I hung out with every night on Chantix. And the dreams are extremely vivid, like High Definition 1080 P with Dolby Surround Sound on steroids. Every night, I was almost in a hurry to go to bed to find out what my next adventure would be. This went on for about 6 months, it was a good time. However, as Willie Nelson once said, “be careful what you’re dreaming, or soon your dreams will be dreaming you”.

I quit Chantix about 4 months or so after I quit smoking. At first, I didn’t notice anything. Then I started to get really depressed, and I mean really Mariana’s Trench Deep Black Hole depressed. Finally, it got so bad one day at work, I closed the door and called the “Employee Help Line”. I normally don’t believe in Employee Help Lines, but that is how bad I was feeling.

The lady on the help line tried to be helpful. She asked me "have you have you had thoughts of suicide, killing yourself or anyone else?"

Me "No."

Her: "Have you been taking drugs?

Me: "No, I don’t do drugs."

Her: "Do you drink?

Me: "Yes."

She: How much?

Me "Like a fish."

She: "Have you been drinking more than usual?"

Me: "No, I always drink like a fish."

She: "How long have you been drinking like a fish?"

Me: "For the last 20 years at least."

She: "And you haven’t been taking any drugs?"

Me: "Nope, none."


Well by now you may have figured it out, but I had just quit taking a drug – Chantix, and was going through a “withdrawal side effect”. You see I don’t consider the drugs that the Dr. gives you as “taking drugs or using drugs”. Damn. I don’t know if any of you have had “head problems” or not but I can tell you this. When you have a “head problem” they are very difficult to diagnose from inside your own head. Once I realized what had caused the problem, I began to feel better almost immediately.

So let’s see what have we learned here……

  1. Don’t Smoke – that way you won’t have to quit.
  2. Allen Carr – has a great approach for quitting smoking
  3. Not all drugs are illegal (Nicotine, Beer, Vodka, and Chantix are all legal)
  4. Do not play around with the Neural Receptors in Your Brain
  5. Head problems can be hard to fix.

All the best....

mike

Thursday, November 20, 2008

My Buddy John Antos - Letting Go...

My good old buddy John Antos took a look at this blog today....and he had the following input, which I found valuable.... John is a well known author in the field of Activity Based Management, and about as decent of guy as you will every meet. John writes...

"Mike, exactly what I would have expected from you.

In last month I let go of a lot of clothes, books, etc. I am deciding where else to let go. Wife, son, daughter, sister, dog, mom, and mother-in-law are keepers. All else open to discussion.

Letting go is scary, joyous, interesting, and lets you go to the next step in your life.

Have fun with your blog and please feed the mousse so they won’t have to bring a sack lunch."

John Antos
President
Value Creation Group, Inc


I think John has brought another new perspective to letting go. Identify, the truly heartfelt things that are important, and hold on to them even tighter.....but let the other stuff go. I'm working on it John. Thanks for the input.
All the best,

Mike

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Letting Go of Hats


Only a few people know it but I am a hat nut. By the way, Nancy is a hat nut too; and she always looks so sharp in her hats. Her Mom did too, I guess it is a family trait.

In any case, I lost my two best hats. I had a beautiful suede Stetson hat, which I left with my coat 3 weeks ago in Michigan. If that weren't enough, I left my Kangol Beret at a hotel in Michigan as well. Wow, my travelling expenses are skyrocketing. But let's get a few things straight here. I am not letting go of my hats...at least not my favorites. I just lost two, and they must be replaced!!!

I googled "Men's Hat Stores in Memphis" and guess what I got...."Mister Hat of Memphis". What a store, located in East Memphis, not too far from my former office. I went there today for some "Retail Therapy" and boy did I get a surprise. You can get a taste here.... http://www.mrhats.com/

Turns out that Mister Hats is owned and operated by Mr. Lansky. Not necessarily the Mr. Lansky that you might know....but his brother. Some of you, who are "unwashed" by the Bluff City, and the Mississippi River may not know who Mr. Lansky is. Please allow me to introduce you to Mr. Lansky, the clothier of the King Elvis... http://www.lansky126.com/history_home.php

Anyhow, it turns out that there are at least 6 Lansky Brothers. And they are all great as far as I can tell. According to Mr. Lansky, there are over 2 million different types of hats, and Lansky's tries to keep up, but he only has 450,000 different types at his store in Memphis. Every customer is treated as though they are a personal friend of the Lansky family. Everyone who walked in the door at Mister Hats asked for Mr. Lansky. These gentelmen are a tribute to what made America a great county, and I am truly thankful for having the opportunity to meet them.

If anyone ever makes it up here to see me....we are going to see the Lansky Brothers, and I hope you have got your purse or wallet ready .....because we're going to drop a few dollars. But you'll be glad you did.

Now about Letting Go of Hats - it's ok to let go, as long as you get a couple of more and they are even better than what you had. If it's good enough for the King, and Big Ike and Big Mike....it's probably just what you need.

All the best.....

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Letting Go of Books


How many books does anybody need? I woke up this morning thinking about books. Yesterday, I started out with about 600 books - I got rid of a several boxes of the dang things - I still have at least 400. I'm going to get ruthless and try and get down to 100 - books that I think I need.


What you see here is a 22 volume edition of the Practical Handyman Encyclopedia. Yep, you are right, I have never been accused of either one, being practical or being a handyman. Do you remember the Jethro Tull Song "Locomotive Breath"? Well there is a verse in that song that says that the individual "Locomotive Breath", "has his hands on Gideon's Bible, opened at page one". That's the way I feel I feel too, I would hate for my lifeless body to be found dead - with my eyes open ....still looking at volume one - page one of the Practical Handyman Encyclopedia.


Here's another classic, from 1993 "The Death of Superman". Now the problem here is not that I have a "comic book", the problem is that I have 103 of them....all the same issue. This was my idea of a get rich quick scheme. Since these were a "limited edition" and 1993 to 2008 - that's 15 years - so what are these babies worth? Based on what I see on ebay, I might be able to recover my initial purchase price. The term "limited edition" must mean that they printed only 100 copies for every living American. Let me know soon if you need one. Otherwise, these are heading for ebay. Not one of my better financial investments for sure.

Although this may seem like a good start, what is called for here is a more radical approach to book sorting. Rather, than thinking about which books to "pitch", I need to focus on what books to save. Here are my rules for saving books. I will keep a book if:
  1. It is the family Bible. This will help people think I am not a heathen.
  2. It is a book that is autographed by a person I respect.
  3. I am keeping my Cub & Boy Scout books and that, is that!
  4. I am keeping my Kinky Friedman books - I can't help it.
  5. I guess I will keep my Cost Management Reference Books.

The rest of these have got to go! Wow, this is actually working. I am down to less than 200. I'm going to stop for now on this blog....and try and finish us on this debooking project.

All the best,

mike

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Battle Continues.....

It's a good thing for me that I started this blog, otherwise I wouldn't know for sure when Nancy and I started cleaning out the garage. As my loyal readers may remember it was Saturday, November 1st.

Since that time we have cleaned out the garage about 3 times. How can this happen? Well after watching the Longhorns Lose to Tech and Dallas lose to I forgot who.....we called it a day. The battle resumed the following Saturday. I continued chanting my new budhist mantra "rid thyself of the possessions of thy garage." And after, a significant battle on Saturday the 8th, we had pretty much cleared all of the junk from the garage. So, Nancy suggested that I go to the office and get some more boxes. We stored these in our newly cleaned gargage. These were for the next phase of the clean out. Now the Matra is "rid thyself of the possessions of your office". Now here is a real challenge.

The initial inventory of my office goes something like this: with 1200 books, five guitars, 100's of compact discs, 1000's of marbles, 103 Superman Comics, over 10o zippo lighters, 8 pocket knives, a b-b gun, a ship load of paper, one treadmill and two sets of weights (new, in mint condition). One small refrigerator, a nice statue of Nephrotite, a few golf clubs, fishing rods, recording studio, michrophones, software, computer games. Holy catz, I guess I have never thrown anything away.

So as you might guess, as Nancy and I began clearing the house out, the garage filled up again. This necessitated another trip to the storage unit (which, although it is 10 x 20 feet - is over 2/3 full. I guess I just need more boxes. Who ever knew that letting go would be so challenging? I'm struggling to let go...but I think I may be getting better.

All the best....

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Against the Odds? I don't think so.

I really don't like writing these type of stories too much, but they are a part of my life that must, somehow get "vetted". I have been trying to write on the lighter side; but on some days...it just ain't very light. Cool new word "vetted". In any case:

If you saw the news yesterday, it was little hard to ignore that the Labor Department reported an additional 530,000 people became unemployed last month. This brought the 3 month total up to 1,250,000. Now there's an interesting thought; how to make oneself stand out in the crowd at the unemployment line. Here how my Dad did the job in 1955;

The View from the Back…………
Of the Unemployment Line 1955

Long about 1955, a disabled Marine Corp Veteran stood at the end of the unemployment line in San Diego, California. He had just about given up hope on finding a job and carried a loaded 38 Special tucked in his belt and under the old jacket that he wore. The gun was there because this young Marine had planned to rob a liquor store; with a goal of stealing enough money to send his 1-year-old son to Northeast Texas on a Greyhound bus. He decided to try one more time to find a job, before committing a dangerous crime.

Along with the 38 Special tucked in his belt, he held his one year old son in his left arm at the end of that long unemployment line. The baby was sick and crying, and nerves were coming unraveled, both for the disabled Marine and the other folks ahead of him in the line. Just as things were about to snap in the young vet’s head, a man from the San Diego unemployment office walked up and said, “Private, can you drive a truck?” The young vet said, “yes sir!” and was told to report to the San Diego Box and Spring Company, for a job immediately for employment as a truck driver. He took the baby back to his sister’s house, and reported for work at San Diego Box and Spring.

A year or two later, with his war wounds still haunting and hurting him, the young Marine Vet, came back to East Texas with his bride and his son. Work was scarce in Northeast Texas, so he picked cotton, even with the mortar wounds and shrapnel still in his back. Many nights the pain was so great he laid flat on the hard word floor, sweating and hoping for some relief. Next morning, he went out to the fields again to try and make a living for his family. I saw him do this. And as far as making a living for his family he did a damn fine job.

You see, that young wounded Marine was a guy named Roy Glenn Roberts, and he was and still is my father. Probably because of all the pain and hardship my dear old Daddy had to bare, he had a major stroke when he was only 48; and died when he was only 60. But he left my Mom, and me, and my sister, DeAnna, with a huge legacy. Not in terms of wealth, money, or anything like that. He left us with a sense of pride, hard work, and determination. Moreover, he left all of us with a complete unwillingness to quit or give up. And for that I am eternally thankful. The only four letter word my Dad said we couldn't use was "Can't".

I hope I can show you a little bit of Dad’s determination in me; from the back of the unemployment line. Even if there are 10 million people in front of me - I guarantee I will make it; I have to because of Dad.

All the best,

Mike

Hey and if you see this please wish my dear friend Laura Zander Cole a very happy birthday you can reach her here:
LauraACole@comcast.net

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Letting Go.. "What, Me Worry???



Dear Readers,

As most of you know by now, I am pretty much out of a job. On the economic front, the stock market dove another four-hundred plus points today. Ford is selling for $1.80 per share. There is a lot of doom and gloom out there in the "big bad world". And as Big Al always used to remind me, "it's scary out there boys and girls." All of this reminds me of another one of my childhood hero's, Alfred E. Neuman.

How many of you remember the old "Mad Magazine"??? Back in the day, their slogan was "25 cents, still cheap". On the front cover was always the same goofy looking freckled-face bastard with red hair, and one or two of his front teeth knocked out, that was Alfred E. Neuman.

In fact in my younger years, numerous friends of mine told me that I bore a striking resemblence to the more well-known, and well loved Alfred E. Neuman. I like to think then and now, that Alfred and I had still have a lot in common. For those of you who may not remember Alfred, I put a picture of him at the top of the post. Alfred is on the left.

Along with having freckles, red hair, and missing front teeth, Alfred and I practiced pretty much the same philosophy.....and Alfred expressed it perfectly - his picture always carried the caption "What? Me Worry?" You see, when you're a poor kid, cursed with freckles and red hair, and you've had the misfortune to knock out your permanent front teeth in an all-out bicycle race (which is another story) you kind of develop a "devil may care attitude toward" life. You kind of get to thinking "what'll they do to me next, take away my birthday?" At least that's the way I thought Alfred and I saw it.

I found this "What? Me Worry?" philosophy to be helpful in many ways. It helped me develop a special kind of self confidence, in that, often times I would think to myself "well, it can't get much worse". And then, sure enough, it would get worse and I would still believe "it can't get too much worse". And then pretty soon I'd find myself joking about the situation. I like to think of this as "innertainment". Once the innertainment hits you, it seems that nothing can stop you...you just kind of "let go"
Here's an innertainment sampler for ya....

  1. We were so poor, that when I was a little boy, it was a good thing that I was a boy, otherwise I wouln't have had anything to play with.
  2. We were so poor, that when I was growing up, if a mouse came to our house, he had to bring his own sack lunch.
  3. We were so poor where we lived, that the rainbow was in black and white.
  4. We were so poor, that our cockroaches were on food stamps.
  5. When I was growing up, we were so poor, we couldn't even pay attention.
  6. When I was growing up, we were so poor, and we had to eat so many armadillos for supper, that to this day if I hear a dog bark, I roll up into a little ball.
  7. We lived so far back in the sticks, that the 6:00 news didn't come on until 9:30.
  8. I was so damn homely looking, that I couldn't get lucky in a women's prison with a handful of paroles.

That's probably a good enough sample for most of you.

I believe that Alfred E. helped me to learn to laugh and try to make the best of every situation. Once I had reached this state; "the A.E. Neuman State of Mind" I really begin to understand how "What? Me Worry?" can actually become a guiding principle.

If you fully understand "What? Me Worry?" as a guiding principle then you know in your heart that no matter how rough this economy gets, we will still probably have some food to eat, at least a halfway decent place to live, and most importantly good family and friends that we love and who love us back. Finally, I am pretty sure we will always be able to share a laugh or two, every chance we get. What more can you really ask for?

In these tough times "What? Me Worry?" could be a lifesaver, and a lot cheaper than a shrink. I hope this helps you "let go" and laugh a little.

All the best,

mike

If you'd like to see some Alfred's great quotes you can find them here:

http://www.leedberg.com/mad/quotes/quotes.html

Monday, November 10, 2008

From the Bucket List: Catfishing Stories and Other Potential Adventures

Well, I got some really great responses to my bucket list effort. So let me give a quick update.

  1. Catfishing on the Mississippi. I got two volunteers to go and get stinky with me chasing 100 lb. catfish on the mighty Mississippi. This is surprising, I thought I might have to go it alone. Patrick Downing and Big Ike Griggs have agreed to join in this adventure - plus I have some interest from Chris McAfee. Big Ike wrote me with his request to participate and the following tale of catfishing heroism....

    Big Mike I would like to be considered for the BIG catfish trip, since my 1st name is BIG. Need to know time line. Do you fish with pole or trot line, and do we have to clean the fish? When I went broke in late 80's and moved to Oakalla, Tx. Chad and I caught a 28 lb. Yellow cat, on trot line in the Lampasas river. It almost drowned my brother BIG Mike. I told him" forget about saving your cigarette, or the son-of-a-bitch is going to drown you!" Now is that a catfish story or what? I have truly amazing friends. You can find out more here; http://www.bigcatfishing.com/

    Guys I am working to try and get us lined up with James "Big Cat" Patterson before the weather gets too cold. He's booked solid for this week. Try and keep ur Fridays flexible. I have always felt this was a good practice anyhow.
  2. My niece Tiffany, reminded me of my long term goal of owning a Schnauzer ranch. I once wanted to have a Schnauzer Ranch with maybe 100 head of thoroughbred schnauzers. Nancy and I currently have four schnauzers, which is at least 2 too many. You see the correct ratio of Schnauzers to humans cannot exceed one to one. Otherwise they get all jealous and go nutso on you. I can't imagine what 100 head of schnauzer's would do; so this will require further deliberation.
  3. My buddy, Ross suggested I consider some Scuba Diving with him. Ross, was my high school motorcycle riding buddy and good friend. He has since become a PADI licensed scuba instructor. Ross is also a great underwater photographer...he sent me a great link to some photos underwater photo's he's taken. I'd post it here - but I lost it. Anyhow, now my buddy Stu has a Captain's License for "unlimited tonnage". I think I see some possibilities here. Maybe I can help set it up and work as "deckhand".
  4. Bill Wells, another friend from International Paper, suggested that I start a web page and go back to consulting. Honestly, I am trying not to do this, it pays great, but it's not as much fun as it looks.
  5. My good friend Kevin Hinz, added one to the bucket list which I know is a "gotta do". He invited Nancy and I up to St. Louis to watch Chuck Berry play. Now how do you beat that?

Man this "letting go", can keep ur ass busy. Opportunities globally ranging from Costa Rica to Memphis, TN. From St. Thomas to St. Louis. What's next? Grand Rapids Michigan - catching the plane tonight.

I hope the pressure doesn't get to me. I'll update you soon on any arrangements relative to the bucket list. Keep your eyes open for the catfishing op. It could be next week. Let's Go!

All the best,

mike



Let Go of Junk....part 2

As I mentioned before, the prophet said "rid yourself of the possessions of your mind". The idea here is that if you get attached to a bunch of possessions, pretty soon your possessions will be owning you. Well, as you may know we tackled the garage, over the last two weeks, and you can now move safely about the garage.

So now it is time "to rid ourselves of the possessions of our closets."

I got rid of about a half dozen beautiful suits that no longer fit.

I guess my next effort needs to be "rid thyself of the fat upon your (_l_)".

Seems like a good project. Let's go!!!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Letting Go of Junk

Some where I remember reading the words of a prophet or spiritualist who said "rid yourself of the possessions of your mind". I think these are very wise words, words to live by, perhaps even a path to follow. But in my case, I think it would be best to start with baby steps, and to that end here is my first attempt down this enlightened pathway. I mean if Alcoholics Anonymous has 12 steps, how can anything possibly work with only one step. So here's my first step at letting go of Junk.....


"Rid yourself of the possessions of your garage!"

To that end, Nancy and I spent last weekend trying to get rid of a bunch of junk.....we rented a 20 x 10 storage building....and just about filled it up. What did this accomplish? My bet is that I have to move this shit again in less than 6 months; moreover, I will probably rent a huge semi-truck and trailor to haul this shit across the country. On top of that, I now have a $120 per month charge to store this crapola.

For years now, these possessions have had control of the garage;
1. Three or Four 8 person camping tents.
2. 30-40 Coleman lanterns, (I'll explain later)
3. Portions of a 2006 R1 Yamaha
4. Portions of a 1947 Chrysler New Yorker
5. Portions of a 2004 Honda VTX 1800
6. Antique stereo equipment....dating back to college days
7. Four Sets of Golf Clubs.
8. At least 5 sets of mechanics tools including Jacks, Jack Stands, Motorcycle Jacks, Wrenches, Welders, two battery chargers, 5 tool boxes, a couple of powersaws, a couple of drill sets, plumbing supplies etc.
9. Junk Furniture - that Nancy bought.

Do you see a trend developing here? Yep, you got it.....it's the damn junk furniture Nancy keeps dragging into this house that is busting the budget and making the garage uninhabitable. We're going to have a talk about this right now. Seriously.

Well, I'm glad we got that straightened out. Nancy agreed that she had gone overboard when she spent $100 on a Chinese-made end table. Now what is going to happen next? I think I will make a few course corrections......

1. I am probabaly nearly too old and decrepit to do too much more camping. Further, I can't see me rallying 30 of my best friends to spend a night under the stars in one of 4 tents I purchased on ebay. At a minimum - 3 of these beauties have got to go.....4 would probably be a better number.

2. Yeah, and there for a while I got hung up on the idea that I, and I alone, should repair every Coleman Lantern I could find. I can't remember when that vision came to me - it may have been the fall-out of never making it all the way to Eagle Scout. In any case, I'll cut myself back to a single Coleman - the rest can go to EBay.

3. And about the Yamaha R-1 Motorycycle Parts, well, about a year and a half ago I fancied myself a Motorcycle Racer and decided I needed a 180 horsepower crotch rocket to demonstate my skills. I had the thing about a month, when I demonstrated my skills right into a ditch, after taking a curve way too fast. Here's another crazy idea "let's race motorcycles for fun and profit!". What's left of this can go in the trash. Thank God, this little beast didn't finish me off.

4. Along with a few of my other misconceptions, I fancied myself quite the mechanic and set about restoring a 1947 Chrysler New Yorker. Well, this project took me parts of the last 7 years, and I have just about got it - but the truth is; it has cost me a fortune. And I'd love to get rid of it, before I have to hire a real mechanic to fix it again. I'll get this sold by Christmas at the latest.

5. Portions of a Honda VTX 1800 Motorcycle - well this one started out innocently enough, I bought this bike for my Sister. All it needed was some cosmetic work, when I got it. But by the time I had got through with the cosmetics, it needed real help. We finally sent it away, and got it running - oh well....more money down the toilet...and more left over parts in the garage. The left over parts can go. The VTX will be sold by Christmas. I bought my sister a nice bike that fits her better anyhow.

6. The stereo equipment, now honestly, that could happen to anyone. Unfortunately, it just keeps happening to me.

7. Four Sets of Golf Clubs - This is completely out of control. First, the only two good balls I ever hit playing golf was the day I stepped on the rake. So how do I wind up with 4 sets of clubs.... easy....it's Nancy again. First, off she has her own set of clubs which her family bought her, which she considers "priceless". A little hard to fault her for that. However, we have a set of men's "lefties" which we have because of her brother is left handed. So there's two sets of clubs for Nancy. I only have one set of clubs, except for the set that John Miller gave me - and since he is a well known author and expert in ABM I have kept these for all of these years. Unfortunately, the lefties, and John Miller's hand me downs are going to the Good Will tomorrow. Unless I here from some avid collectors of golfing memorobilia.

8. I finally figured it out. I am not a mechanic, my Dad was a mechanic. If Dad had any talent at mechanics, it was not passed down to me. Neither, am I a carpenter, my dear Grandpa Roberts was a carpenter. He did not pass down one ounce of carpenter ability to my Dad, and Dad must have passed me down even less than that. I am not an electrician, I don't even understand electricity. I need to leave these things alone. I am going to try and sell all of these damn tools this weekend, before I hurt myself!

Let me know if you need anything - as for me - I'm Letting Go!

All the best,

Mike

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Bucket Lists and That Sort of Thing.....

A month of so ago, Nancy got us a copy of Jack Nicholson and Morgan Friedman's Film called the "Bucket List". To be honest with all of you, around the first of the year, Nancy and I finished our "Last Wills and Testaments". Man, let me tell you, when I got that done what a relief I felt. I sent a copy to my Sister, DeAnna, and asked her if it looked alright to her, she said, "I don't know, I don't even want to think about it". This was my chance to get the last laugh and say "well you better think about it now....because when I'm dead, it'll be harder for me to get it changed". That is the great relief of having a will, once you've finished it - there's no more arguing. Of course, my recent change in employment status may cause a few adjustments - but those won't take long - then the whole deal is on someone else. The concept of the "Last Living Will and Testament" must have been created by someone who, realizing it was late in the season of life for him, saw the opportunity to dump a whole bunch of shit on other people. What do you bet the creator of this legal document was "William the Wise Ass", hence the name Will?

While on the subject of bucket lists and wills, here's another good one. My sister has been jabbing at me with the Tommy Smother's line "Mom Always Liked You Best" thing. So anyhow, she and I were down at Mom's for Thanksgiving a year or so ago, and Mom has this beautiful octagonal table made of a variety of beautiful handcrafted woods. DeAnna mentioned to me how much she liked it and someday hoped it might be in her home.

Here's how I earn my reputation as a jerk....

I waited until the entire family was around to ask Mom, "Hey Mom, I really love this table, could Nancy and I have it, it would occupy a special place in our home?" This would have launched WW3, except for I couldn't stop laughing. I swear, I believe Mom would have given it to me on the spot. On the other hand, if Mom had of given it to me, I'd have given it to DeAnna, because I knew she loved it more. Still I thought it was funny., So much for my warped sense of humor.

Now back to the bucket list - I did create a few things I wanted to get done before I die. As well as a preambe, and invitations for you to join me in "Getting Let Go" as well as the more fun sport of "Letting Go!"

Nov. 4, 2008

The “Last Bucket List” of
Michael Wayne Roberts
As of November 4, 2008….subject to many changes in the future

Preamble:

I, Michael Wayne Roberts, being of somewhat sound mind and body, do hereby declare that as of this date, May 27, 2008, this is the “Last Bucket List Will of myself, Michael Wayne Roberts. It is valid only until such time as I update it; which I hope will be monthly with new challenges and adventures that I wish to explore with family, old friends, new friends, strangers, or even in some cases, alone. This is not, at this point a legally binding “PTA document” (Pain in The Ass) document. It is living and growing challenge that I will share with close friends and family only. Of course to become a close friend or family member is generally possible at any time. To become a close friend just give me a wink or a nod at the right time. If you desire family membership, I can help in that area as well; since I am an ordained minister in the Church of Universal Ministry. Please keep in mind that my church does not practice polygamy (it’s too hard for mortals to do) nor do we “allow human or animal sacrifice” since it is so messy. By and large, my congregation simply gives thanks for all that has been given us every day by the Grand Architect of the Universe.

If you are reading this, it is probably because I hoping that you will join me on one, or more, of my bucket list adventures. If you don’t see anything of interest, on the current list; stay tuned for upcoming dates….or what the Hell?…..throw in some ideas for the list of your own. If you have this secret list, you probably know that I am a “Gamer” and might try anything you can name with a friend.

To try and ensure that I keep my priorities straight, I have time banded my list into “near term must do’s”, mid term must do’s, and longer term “wanna do’s”. I have also included a “trash bucket list” of things that I gotta get done soon…..just to get them off my mind; and while these are listed last; I consider them a priority; in that, failing to knock them off could delay the really great “must do’s and wanna do’s. As such, in the near term I am going after the “trash bucket list” with a mortal vengeance. If I am successful at these; it can create more room for the need to and want to do’s on the rest of the bucket list.

If my list seems simple to you; I think that is great. I wanted a foundation I could think about and build upon. I hope you will pay close attention to the near term events, because if I live long enough – they will be complete in the next 6 – 12 months. Others take a little more planning, and are potentially even more important / fun. My truest hope is that some of you may find something that interests you, and jump it the bucket with me! If You Think You Are Ready…..Let Me Know, And As I Have Said Before

Let’s Go!!!!!


Last Will and Bucket List for
Michael W. Roberts
May 27, 2008

Near Term (Gotta Do):

1. Go Fishing for “Big Cats” on the Mississippi. (How could we miss this chance?) you can find that one here...and sign up with me...
http://www.bigcatfishing.com/ for some reason...there is some reluctance on the part of some of my friends.


2. Visit Liverpool England. Home of the Beatles.
3. Great big 4th of July Party down in East Texas featuring our band “Diddley Squat” and family. Ray Price? Kenny Falls? Others? Speak-easy? Bring the team! Dance Instruction / Dance contest….
4. Watermelon festival parade with my family. Consider “do-dah parade”. Sponsor statewide melon carving contest! Bring the Team! Randy Moore, Wade Cobb, Tony Cobb….bring em all.
5. Alaska tour with Nancy (I promised and am overdue on this one) in August.
6. Investigate / Instigate Northeast Texas Revival (with Carabeth Lucky etal.
7. Omaha Fall Festival – win the best of show and chili cook-off (CASI). Sponsor successful scarecrow contest!
8. Actively Participate and Make a Scene at Captain Daingerfield Days.

9. Consider Do-Dah Parade.
10. City / County Christmas - things for everyone – make it special

11. Daingerfield Park Celebration and Festival!!!!
12. Could include Sunday Fest and Lunch….
13. Munich at Christmas with Nancy

Slightly Longer Term (Need to Do)

48 State Bike Ride (alone or with bros. / sistas)
Yosemite
Death Valley
Big Bend
Old Faithful
Mount Rushmore
Florist Biker Ride
Memphis World Champ BBQ cook off
Terlingqua Chili World Championship – at least compete
Flower Design Training (CHR) or Texas or Other (Nancy and Mike)
Costa Rica with Big Ike
Mayan Vacation – Tuluum – Chetimzal etc.
Machu Pichu

Longer Term List…..
Well we’ll just have to wait and see how this one plays out after I finish the first list…..


Ideas Welcome....send em all. Please note that I am currently seeking immediate volunteers for my expedition down the Mississippi in serarch of 100 plus pound catfish. If you're game, and don't mind a bit of a gamey smell - get in touch with me soon. I need to book this trip in the next few weeks.

All the best,

mike

Monday, November 3, 2008

Letting Go Journal - Supports Big Ike

The Secrets of Chasing Women and Having Fun
Another Mystery in the Life of Mike Roberts



For those of you who have not yet met my dear friend Big Ike, He and I go back about a dozen years. Ike is in the concrete business, which like other housing sector businesses is going through some turbulent times. Ike is following this blog and sent me the following post…..

My Dear Friend Ike Writes:

“Good morning my friend, THIS IS THE DAY THE LORD HATH MADE AND I WILL REJOICE IN IT! Happy is the man and he alone, he who can call today his own, he who without regret can say, TOMORROW DO THY DAMNDIST FOR I HAVE LIVED TODAY! 3 days ago I didn't even know what a blog was! Now I have on! I just don't know how to write anything on it! Would you do me the great honor of writing something for me based on the theme of chasing women, and having fun! Your style is so much more eloquent, and refined! Call me! Love Ya Man!!!!!! PURA VIDA, Ike
PS Did I spell damnedist correct? It would not come up on spell check?


Since this blog is about letting go I decided Ike’s request fits in ….at least kind of….my response is below…

My dear friend Big Ike asked me to help kick-start his blog by writing something about chasing women and having fun. Obviously this is a great topic, and one that many men and possibly women would be greatly interested in. The unfortunate part of this topic for me is it is a topic I know just about nothing about, especially these days.

Let me try and explain. Here are my list of reasons and excuses for pleading ignorance on this subject.

1. Of my 54 years on this planet, I have held a job for 42 of those years and have been married 35 of them. This did not leave me a whole lot of time for mastering the fine art of having fun or chasing women.

2. Physical Appearance – I’d like to tell you that I have the type of body that “men fear and women love”, however those of you that know me – know better. Another thing that doesn’t help is the fact that, I have the perfect face - for radio.

3. Finally, it seems like every time I was starting to succeed at chasing women or having fun – I’d fool around and get myself caught.


Don’t get me wrong, I was always deeply interested in both topics, just didn’t have the time or the money required to master them. In fact, I have been so unlucky at chasing women and having fun that complete strangers have walked up and said to me “I’ll bet you couldn’t get lucky in a women’s prison with hand full of paroles.”

My dear old Pappy told me that there was only two ways to attract women, and none of the men in our family had ever really figured out how either of them worked.


While I maynot much in the playboy department, I do consider myself an intrepid writer, not afraid of any subject, regardless of how little I may know about the subject. Lack of knowledge has never stopped me before, and I won’t let it stop me now. Especially, since I have a ½ dozen single friends who sometimes provide me updates on these exciting subjects – and I am a good listener.

First, Ike let me give you a possible title for your new blog site.....I know how hard it is to come up with a good title so here you go....

Ike Griggs
My Journey: From 55 year-old Plowboy to Middle Aged Playboy

Now here are a few potential topics.....

Top 10....er....6......ok 4 Tips for Chasing Women;


1. Frequent Target Rich Environments. According to some of my more successful friends these are environments where the ratio of women to men is at last three – two. Further, it can be helpful, if the women at these places were / are formerly married to oil millionaires, bankers, doctors, lawyers, or other wealthy professional vermin. In some cases these ladies may just be looking for a deckhand for a night of fun; in other cases it can be more serious. My recommendation is as always, be careful.

2. Be sure and use the Internet Dating Service that is right for you. Subscribe to all Internet dating services, but be a little bit careful about how you use them. Some, like E-Harmony are actually trying to fix you up with someone who is compatible with you, this could put a quick end to chasing women and having fun….so watch it. Others, like match.com, are more helpful, just trying to match up horny couples who need to get laid. Be sure when using these services not to fall in love, as your likelihood of true compatibility is somewhat diminished. Finally, there is Craigslist.com; where you are most likely to find hookers and catch a serious STD.
(Case Study; I have a buddy who has got to be over 70 who told me he was getting more every month, than he had in the last 10 years. He was seeing White, Black, Asian, and Hispanic women) His top secrets were Money, Match.Com, and Viagra. I asked him about STD’s and he claimed that at his age his doctor said he was "immune".


3. Always wear a wedding ring. If you have thrown all your old one’s out, go and buy a new one. These are must attire for gentlemen on the prowl. You see with a wedding ring, there is an automatic assumption of “no-commitments”, apparently and according to the experts, many women feel extremely comfortable with this sort of arrangement. This issue has become so prevalent, that a musician friend of mine has quit wearing his wedding ring, to prevent these type of women from stalking him.

4. Style Yourself. Keep in mind that the style you present, will determine the type of women you may attract. Here are a couple of classifications:

a. High Style - Drives a 2008 Atomic Orange Convertible Corvette. Wears swanky looking clothes, with matching shoes. Body build etc. thin, tan, muscular. Carries a minimum of twenty one hundred dollar bills in a gold money clip. Wears Rolex President watch. Also has, a wallet full over the limit plastic. This guy gets them just about every time. Trouble is, sometimes they just want his money.

b. Medium Style – Wears casual business clothes, glasses, looks somewhat inconspicuous. Carries two credit cards, one personal, one business. Medium build; average appearance. This is a very dangerous style to display. It will tend to attract only women who want to marry you, and usually if they are attractive they have 2 kids under 5 years old.

c. Deckhand – Wears only sleeveless shirts, with somewhat faded bluejeans or cut-off’s in the summer. Occasionally, wears a mullet (especially in the south). Has glorious tan, strong abs, big chest and biceps. Might have beer money in his pocket, no watch, no socks, no underwear. This is the ideal style if you can pull it off, it’s the "what you see is what you get – party boy look". Guaranteed for a night of fun.



Top Ways to Run Off Women:
1. Please review the profile of Mike Roberts. This has been almost fool proof for over 50 years.
2. Use some of those outdate lines from the 70’s like “what is your sign?” or “have you been sitting in a puddle or are you glad to see me?
3. Get some of those mud flaps for your pick-up with the naked gal silhouette.
4. Get a Tee Shirt that says “if they didn’t have vaginas, there would be a bounty on them."

If any of the rest of you have ideas for Big Ike's Chasing Women and Having Fun Blog, you can post them here, or email them to Big Ike in person @ ikegriggs@live.com


One more word of wisdom for the ladies who might read this to keep in mind, I have had 4 friends get married in the last two years, none of them are still married. Although, I suspect this has little to do with me, my official record over the last two years is 4 marriages; 3 divorces; 1 annulment; and no one left on base.

None the less, I have given this assignment my best & I wish all of you…..

All the best,

Mike



Saturday, November 1, 2008

Selling Out!!!!


Some "letting go" type decisions are easier to make than others. Here's an example of what I consider a "no brainer".. Nancy and I are going to sell the house here in Memphis. The reasoning on this is pretty simple - if we can get it sold, along with the one in Texas (which is supposed to close on November 20), we have maximum flexibility to go anywhere we choose. We also, would be completely debt free - and free to coast for quite a while if choose to. Man, coasting sounds good to me.

Now when I said Nancy and I are going to sell this house, I meant exactly what I said. Nancy and I are going to sell this house ourselves without the aid of a real estate agent. Why....well that's another no brainer....it is a bad market here like everywhere else. I don't really need to give away 6% of the value of the place to a real estate firm. I'd rather reduce the price by 6% and give the benefit to the new owner...and hopefully sell the place faster. I'd like to be out from under this joint by Christmas if possible.

As with all decisions, there are consequences. Perhaps the biggest one here is that we have to get rid of a bunch of junk, especially in the garage which has become an dangerous place to walk, an eyesore, and a fire hazard. So here's the deal, Nancy, and I got a big jump on this bad boy Friday- we rented a 10' x 20" storage building. Since I guess our home here is a little over 2000 square feet - and I'll bet we fill that storage building to the gills, a logical calculation would indicate that we have about 10% too much junk. That would be a logical calculation - my bet is we bot 40% too much junk and we going to try and cram pack it into this storage building. The picture at the top of this post should give you an idea of what we are confronting....

Well to make this long story a little shorter....actually a two-parter.....we made a dent on the junk......then went ahead and watched the Longhorns lose to the Texas Tech, and then Dallas lose to the Giants.....WTF.....More work to do....on letting go...

All the best







I am not sure if I can get all of this done today before the Texas Longhorns play Texas Tech, but however far I get....I'm stopping for the game. I'll try and get a few pics in case you see any "choice junk" you think you need from our collection.




Well we got us one heck of a big weekend planned here by Golly!!! That's right, we're going to be packing up all the senseless junk that we have accumulated and moving it to the storage building. The idea here is that we are getting the house ready to sell, and all this junk would probably turn off a prospective buyer. Not only could it turn off an prospective buyer - it is definitely a safety and fire hazard.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Recent Feedback.......

You know, I have always said that a "swift kick in the ass" is an effective form of feedback. But let's talk for a second about feedback, good, bad, & otherwise.

During my trip back to Northeast Texas, I felt compelled to tell a limited number of folks, that my job at the large "fortune 100 company" had ended. The standard reactions went something like this....
  1. Oh My God, what will you and Nancy do?
  2. How will you cut down your expenses to make this work?
  3. I'm so sorry, I wish you'd have lung cancer instead of this......

Those of you that really know me said something completely different and I appreciate that. It also plays into the title of this essay...."Recent Feedback." So let's go ahead and analyze "Feedback" and try and understand what it means and how it can be most effective.

As far as I can tell, the afore mentioned three feedback's, could only introduce fear, uncertainty, and dread to the individual who has just been "let go". In my particular case, I asked myself, "am I overly confident, that just because I have made a living wage since the age of 12, that this will continue? Will I be living on the streets, pushing a grocery cart with all my belongings? Will I find myself muttering some incomprehensible words about Activity Based Management, Harvard University, and Non-Value Added Activity?"

To all of these thoughts, my answer came back loud and strong....."What a bunch of Bullshit!!!!! Nancy and I will be fine....and as for me....I will strut like a cock until I am 99. I will walk like a man.

Believe me, "let go" means I am free, free to do whatever it takes to make myself and Nancy happy. And that I will do, and no human can stop me. Now for a second, in terms of feedback, I would ask the reader what the 3 preceding sympathetic feedbacks mean. To make it simple, I'd rather not hear any of them. While they may show concern, they also offer up a "whipped pup attitude". Ain't no whipped pup here.

In college I tried boxing, and was even inspired by the movie "Rocky". I used to think that my true friends that saw me take a mean punch; saw me hit the canvas; and saw me taking the standing 8 count; would race to the betting window, to try and throw some more money down on me, at better odds. My true friends, would knew that I would get back up, and do whatever it took to win the fight.

By the way, as far as I am concerned this ain't even a fight....it's a joy ride. The cards are stacked in my favor and I am enjoying one chance in my life to decide what I want to do next....biggest cakewalk I have ever had.

Now let's talk some more about feedback. What kind of feedback to you want to give to your friends and loved ones? Will it be:

"The OMG I'm sorry you got a tough break", or the

"Get up and show'em what you can do"

I prefer my friends in the second group. And by the way.....watch for sparks!!!!! My recommendation....try to give your friends winning feedback...not loser feedback.

Be sure to vote!!!!

All the best, Mike

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Letting Go - The First Week of Exploring Options

Prior to being "let go", my wife, Nancy, and I had planned a trip down to Northeast Texas to see our family and participate in the Omaha, Texas Fall Festival. Going back to my hometown is also a very good form of "letting go", this part of the world provides a nice and easy pace of life. Also I thought it might provide me an opportunity to check out our options for moving back to Northeast Texas. I have always loved this part of the world and there are a number of reasons for that.....




  1. My Mom and Sister still live there.

  2. I grew up there and still have a few friends there.

  3. The country-side is pretty.

  4. And I could go on and on....

However there are a few drawbacks to this area of the world;



  1. There are few jobs that pay above minimum wage.

  2. There is high unemployment.

  3. There are only 1.5 grocery stores.

  4. Although the population is only around 2000, there are more than 20 churches and only 1 bar. As most of you know, I would prefer a community that provides 20 bars, with a single church for the sinners (whoever they may be) to repent.

  5. The county is "dry", which means a 50 mile round trip to buy a can of beer.

  6. Most of my old friends have moved away to find decent jobs and something to do on Saturdays besides clean the chicken coops.

It's early in this adventure yet - so I won't rule out living in Northeast Texas, but I must admit there are a few drawbacks.


The Omaha Fall Festival was a raging success this year; Specifically;

  1. Eight people entered the Chili Cook-off

  2. 5 or 6 folks competed in the scarecrow contest

  3. The "Eastern Star Sorority" sold all of their chicken stew

  4. The demolition derby (in the next town over) drew over 200 spectators

  5. The Bar-None Ministry and Church held a revival, which drew about 100 folks, and saved 2 souls.

  6. About 50 of us got to see the greatest blues band in this part of the world, Diddley Squat. You can see them too here; http://dsquat.com/ enjoy!!

So much for week one. All the best! mike